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Mosca Fly Diptera

Researchers find more than 90 percent of flying insects in hospitals carry harmful bacteria

Flies in hospitals may be more dangerous than their irritating buzzing. A study carried out in seven hospitals in England found out that 90 percent of the flying insects had potential harming bacteria with them. The study was published in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

More than half of the bacterial strains which were identified were ‘superbugs‘. It means that these bacteria were resistant to a minimum of one class of antibiotics. Additionally, it was found that 20 percent of the bacteria were resistant to several classes of antibiotics. Penicillin was least effective against the bacteria which were found.

Federica Boiocchi, the principal author of the study and a Ph.D. student at Aston University said in a university press release that the results of the microbiological analysis demonstrate a variety of insects flying in the hospitals of United Kingdom harbor a wide range of harmful bacteria belonging to several species. It is quite interesting that a large sample of the bacteria in this study is resistant to several antibiotics. This shows that the overuse of antibiotics in the treatment of patients is making it even more difficult while treating infections.


Nearly eighty-six bacterial strains were found in the insects among which E.Coli and Salmonella were the most common as they were found in 41 percent of the strains. In twenty-four percent of the strains, the food poisoning bacteria B. cereus was found while 19 percent of the strains contained the microbes causing skin infections and respiratory problems.

More than 20,000 flying insects were collected by the scientists in a period of 18 months with the help of devices such as ultraviolet-light flytraps, electric fly killers. Out of these insects, more than 75 percent were flies and included house flies and ants, bees, moths. When any of these insects lands on food items such as fruits, the bacterial cells are released on to the foods. It may not be infectious immediately as there are a fewer number of microbes but with the passing of time, proliferation of bacteria can cause infections in the person eating the food.

Anthony Hilton, a co-author and professor of applied microbiology said that the National Health Service(NHS) hospitals of the UK are very clean with highly hygienic conditions. Hence the risk of infections in the patients through these bacteria is less. However, the main goal of the study is to bring to notice that even clean environments can contain pathological bacteria, so adequate steps have to be taken to improve the situation to a greater extent. The NHS hospitals will be implementing steps to adhere to this and bring an improvement in hygiene.

About the author: Kalpit Veerwal
Kalpit Veerwal is a second year Computer Science undergraduate at IIT Bombay. He is well known for being the only person to score 360/360 in JEE (Main). He is registered in the Limca Book of Records for the same. A blogger in his free time, he has also secured top ranks in various exams held in India and the world.

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